Many ankle and foot problems do not respond to conservative measures. The podiatrist may determine that you need surgical intervention. Reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery can help restore foot function and alleviate pain.
What conditions are treated using reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery?
The three common conditions that cause problems with the heel and ankle are:
- Plantar fasciitis – This is inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and extends from the heel bone to toes. These tissues become inflamed and irritated from excessive jumping and running.
- Heel spur – This can cause significant chronic pain.
- Haglund’s deformity – This is a bony enlargement on the back of the heel. Also called pump bump, the condition develops when the Achilles tendon becomes irritated. Spur and calcification formation can occur causing a bump to appear at the back of the foot.
What types of foot surgeries does the podiatrist do?
There are a few types of surgery used for reconstruction. These are:
- Fusion – This is performed to treat arthritic conditions of the ankle and foot. A fusion involves removal of all cartilage from a joint, and then joining two or more bones together so they don’t move. This is done using plates, screws, pins, or a combination of these.
- Tendon surgery – The tendons are often ruptured, torn, or damaged during trauma. The surgeon can shorten or lengthen a tendon, depending on the problem. This usually improves ankle and foot function.
- Metatarsal surgery – Performed for many reasons, metatarsal surgery is usually done to redistribute weight bearing on the foot’s ball. This involves removal of the metatarsal heads, which are bones in the ball of the foot.
- Heel surgery – Depending on the chronic nature of the disease, heel surgery is used to provide relief of pain and help restore mobility. For many people, this procedure is based on plantar fascia release and heel spur excision. These modifications and surgical enhancements help improve mobility and alleviate pain.
- Extensive surgical repair – Reconstructive surgery of the ankle and foot is a complex procedure, but it helps prevent further deformity or disease. This involves bone grafting, fusion of bone, tendon transfer/repair, tumor excision, and/or osteotomy of bone. Pins, screws, wires, staples, and other hardware devices are used to stabilize and repair bone in reconstructive procedures.
How do I prepare for reconstructive foot and ankle repair surgery?
Anyone preparing for a surgical procedure will first meet with the surgeon for a physical examination and medical history. Before surgery, a podiatrist discusses your condition, reviews your mediations, and goes over your allergies. Certain tests are ordered before the procedure, such as x-rays, EKG, blood work, and circulation studies. After being cleared for surgery, the doctor has you sign an informed consent paper.
What can I expect during recovery?
The foot/heel region will be heavily bandaged following the procedure. You may be in a cast or placed in a special split. You must not bear weight on the foot, so crutches are used. The podiatric surgeon will have you visit with a physical therapist following the procedure, who will assist with recovery. Ice compression is used for pain relief, and you will be given some medications to take.